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The Most Vulnerable Populations to Climate Change: Floods, Droughts and Extreme Weather

First Posted: Sep 22, 2014 09:03 AM EDT
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While climate change can benefit some locations, other areas are more at risk. Now, scientists have taken a look at which sections of the world's population are left most at risk to food shortages and extreme weather events.

Extreme weather events can leave populations with not enough food both in the short- and long-term. That's why scientists decided to take a look at which populations could be most affected by these events. More specifically, they tracked the effects on four countries, including Russia, East Africa, Pakistan and the Philippines, which all experienced extreme weather events that ranged from drought to flooding.

Climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of heatwaves and floods. Although there's no scientific evidence to show that a specific weather event would not have happened without climate change, the risk of the event does indeed increase. In fact, the new findings show that the heat wave that occurred in Russia and the drought that occurred in East Africa were most likely caused by climate change.

"Weather has always affected flood security, particularly for many of the world's poorest people," said John Ingram, one of the lead authors of the new study, in a news release. "Perhaps we think of farmers or fishermen first, but extreme weather will affect many more people in other ways too. While direct measures such as emergency preparedness and the strengthening of response-related institutions is helpful, this study has identified the need for a wider cultural shift to ensure the poorest and most vulnerable are properly protected."

For example, the researchers found that in Pakistan, coercive landlords took advantage of smallholders and others affected by the floods that swept through the area. In fact, the flooding is estimated to have led to an 80 percent rise in wheat and rice prices in 2010.

The findings reveal the importance of taking steps in order to mitigate the impacts of climate change. This is especially important in vulnerable countries that may be especially affected by extreme weather events.

The new report can be found published online.

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